Release Date: Mar 6, 2012
Record label: TBD Records
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock
This Brooklyn-via-Missouri band is engagingly (and sometimes confoundingly) mutable. Their 2007 debut Fort Nightly now sounds like a Latin-tinged version of Vampire Weekend's indie afro-pop. But Tito Puente had left the building by 2009's It's Frightening, a dark-angled indie-pop affair produced by Spoon's Britt Daniel. Their third album deepens the rockist intentions with a track called "Heavy Metal" and a sound that's like Spoon or Fountains of Wayne dipped in distracted keyboard/noise-guitar ooze – power pop dis-empowered.
The White Rabbits are really making a statement with this one. That statement: none of these songs are gonna get grabbed by a car commercial! Not even the toe-tappin’ first single, “Temporary,” which contains just enough disjointed synth corners to delight today’s craft-beer drinking youth while simultaneously siphoning attention away from any foreground video one attempts to watch (I’m not bitter about my unsuccessful visit to Redtube, more about the fact critics have to work on Saturdays). Still, Milk Famous is one of the better of the many unofficial Gimme Fiction tribute albums we’ve seen.
Milk Famous is an ambitious step forward for White Rabbits. Not so much a departure as an evolution, the album takes the ethereal post-punk blueprint that the Brooklyn-based Midwestern transplants offered on their prior brace of releases, and adds depth, grandeur and empathy. Electronics and experimentation play a much bigger role here than we’ve come to expect from White Rabbits, the result being that repeated listens of standout tracks such as “Everyone Can’t Be Confused” and “You Are Free” reveal exciting and unexpected musical flourishes not often heard these days.
When White Rabbits wanted to move away from the everything-but-the-kitchen-sink sound of their debut Fortnightly, they recruited Spoon's Britt Daniel to streamline their music, and the results, It's Frightening, sometimes followed a little too closely in Daniel's footsteps. This time, the band ventures out a bit farther, working with frequent Spoon producer Mike McCarthy on Milk Famous, which does a more convincing job of putting the band's own stamp on these songs. Unsurprisingly, some of Spoon and McCarthy's favorite touches -- driving pianos, double-tracked vocals, and rockabilly-tinged reverb -- are present and accounted for here, but the overall sound is slicker and somehow subtler than before, with a new wave sheen to songs like the sleek "Temporary" that leans more toward the likes of the French Kicks, Phoenix, or Two Door Cinema Club than the unexpected curves and raw edges that Daniel and company throw at their listeners.
White RabbitsMilk Famous[TBD Records; 2012]By Rob Hakimian; March 9, 2012Purchase at: Insound (Vinyl) | Amazon (MP3 & CD) | iTunes | MOGTweetWith the two songs that were released in advance of this album, “Heavy Metal” and “Temporary,” White Rabbits indicated that they’d found a new level of detail in their sound, at which they’d only hinted at on previous albums. At their core, White Rabbits’ songs have always been fairly simple, but they add extra textures, drum patterns and sound effects to build them up into something more complex. It’s an art form at which they have come close to mastering on Milk Famous, but almost to a fault.
White Rabbits came out of the hat with magical, drum-propelled rock songs in 2009 on their second studio release It’s Frightening. Now they have turned up again with more of the same percussion and piano based songs with their third album Milk Famous. With sounds reaching from the pre-punk era to blue-eyed soul to ska revival to classic rock, this indie rock six-piece from Brooklyn continues to impress us with their unique sound.
On 2009's It's Frightening, White Rabbits avoided sophomore slump by going for sophomore Spoon. With Britt Daniel as producer, the band found some serious direction, at the expense of occasionally being a dead ringer for Daniel's own band. The whole experience certainly whipped them into shape—give the 2007 debut Fortnightly a spin next to those songs, or especially alongside this batch, and it sounds almost unfocused.
We talk plenty about fear of the sophomore slump often, but sometimes it's that third album that's the most tricky. Especially if you made a solid debut and then blew it out of the water with a much more self-assured and complex second record. Which is, as you may remember, what happened with White Rabbits when 2009's It's Frightening hit. The Britt Daniel-produced record broke the pop traditionalism of its predecessor out into stranger territory, with troubling atmosphere hiding behind every sweet lick, and those snapping, powerful drums right up front in the mix.
A lot of things frustrate me about White Rabbits' third album, Milk Famous. First and foremost, the band's mistaking melodic and emotional obtuseness with alluring restraint. So I apologize for erring on the side of artless candor to express the single most obvious thing about them: They sound like Spoon. A lot like Spoon.
For its sophomore album, It’s Frightening, White Rabbits recruited Spoon frontman Britt Daniel to produce. This partnership proved to be a fruitful collaboration, as the resulting album focused the band’s best ideas from their debut, Fort Nightly, with a remarkable precision that still allowed their infectious energy to flourish. Urgent, often frenetic, and unbelievably catchy, the influence of Spoon on White Rabbits was clear on It’s Frightening, even to a fault.
Don't look now, but White Rabbits is verging on a cosmopolitan career. The band's third album, Milk Famous, returns to the twitchy dance-rock that made this Brooklyn group such an unstoppable opening act, folding in dashes of Talking Heads' jitter-pop and some blackened post-punk tautness. Mostly, though, it's the third disc in a row with the onetime Missouri quintet concocting dense, elastic pop music with such efficiency that you're forced to at least entertain the thought of transcendence.
A smart, retronic record for anyone who wanted The King of Limbs to be more sing-along. Mark Beaumont 2012 The city that never sleeps has finally been caught napping. Brooklyn, once the driving force of 21st century alt-pop, appears to have caught up with the 80s revival four years too late. Hence recent albums from Chairlift and School of Seven Bells that couldn’t be more in debt to Fleetwood Mac’s Tango in the Night if they were full of samples of skirts being flapped around a farmstead; and this, the third album from leftfield rockers White Rabbit, formerly berated for their adherence to stolid indie formulae on their Britt-Daniel-from-Spoon-produced second album It’s Frightening.